Utilities Middle East
HUWAEI A KEY PARTNER IN THE REGION’S DECARBONISATION DRIVE
Charles Yang, Senior Vice President, Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. and President of Global Marketing, Sales and Services, Huawei Digital Power outlines the company’s business priorities for
the region as it works to promote the low carbonisation of the energy industry
As enterprises in the Middle East progress in their digital transformation mindset, Charles Yang, Senior Vice President, Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. and President of Global Marketing, Sales and Services, Huawei Digital Power, sees the Middle East region and the Gulf specifically as one of “strategic importance” to the company as it seeks to contribute to a low-carbon, smarter society powered by digital technologies.
Yang points out that, globally, almost 40% of carbon emissions now come from electric systems. “Many countries have proposed their timeline to achieve carbon neutrality, but to be able to deliver that goal, we need to build electric systems based on new kinds of power sources,” says Yang.
This is one of several priorities that Huawei Digital Power has in the Gulf region over the coming years.
Founded early this year, Huawei Digital Power now looks at five areas of business globally: Smart PV, data centre facilities, mPower for electric vehicles, site power, and integrated energy solutions. “While we will have cooperation with business in all of these five domains in the GCC, I believe that Smart PV and data centre facilities are particularly important,” comments Yang.
With some of the longest sunlight hours in the world—estimated at 2,500 hours per year— Yang strongly believes that there are great opportunities for large-scale deployment of PV and energy storage systems in the region.
To that end, Huawei Digital Power has already established strategic partnerships with many companies to support their deployment of such systems, not only in the region, but also globally.
In terms of data centre facilities, Yang highlights that because of the developments in cloud and in digital sovereignty, many countries have accelerated the construction of data centre facility.
The development of 5G networks and services are also growing data traffic, with more data centres anticipated to be deployed in the near future.
“In the past, oil was the pillar of economic growth. But in the future, data will become a new engine for economic expansion,” contends Yang.
Huawei currently holds over 70% of the market share of data centre facility in the Middle East. While traditionally data centre construction would take on average 24 months, now this can be done in just six to nine months.
“Another important factor for data centre facility is energy consumption. Through a combination of AI and power electronics technologies, for example, Huawei solutions can reduce the PUE of data centre facility from 1.45 to 1.2, which is very competitive in the industry,” says Yang.
“At Huawei Digital Power, we can combine digital and power electronics technology to provide low carbon solutions to end users that are secure, simplified, and green. Using AI, cloud, and big data will facilitate more efficient operation and maintenance so that enterprises can provide clean and stable power to society. If we put 5G and digital power together, as one example, we can envision a future where we can build smart and integrated energy solutions easier and at lower costs,” adds Yang.
“After the pandemic, there will be even greater demand from the public for new and green power sources.”
Huawei aims to combine digital and power electronics technology to provide lowcarbon solutions to end users that are secure, simplified, and green.
Over the years, Huawei has continuously helped customers generate 400 billion kWh of green power and save 12.4 kWh of electricity, cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 200 million tons, which is equivalent to planting 270 million trees.
Regarding global sustainable development goals, Yang believes that more countries will join treaties in the future.
“This is not only our responsibility and obligation for future generations, but this presents new economic development opportunities too,”
Talking about the potential of technology, Yang cites its inimitable role in lowering the cost of solar power generation, which currently stands at 5 to 10 times less than it was a few years ago, and currently more competitive than power generation from fossil fuels in many countries.
What sets Huawei Digital Power apart from peers is its unique philosophy of “Use Bits to Manage Watts”.
Yang says that the company will use digital technologies to manage power electronics and equipment, providing simplified, green, smart, and secure solutions for clean power generation, green ICT infrastructure, transportation electrification, and integrated smart energy.
The Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) refers to the unprecedented changes observed in the climate, and explains that strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases would limit climate change. Unless there are immediate, rapid and largescale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach.
The UAE embarked on its journey of climate action long ago when it acceded to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1995. Since then, it has enacted a wide range of legislation and developed several sustainable development plans including the expansion of renewable and clean energy projects.
Widely commended around the world, the UAE’s initiative to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 was announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
It represents the UAE’s efforts to contribute positively to the issue of climate change and transform challenges in this sector into promising opportunities to ensure a brighter and more sustainable future, for generations to come.
In line with Dubai’s commitment to sustainability and its proactive role in supporting the future of energy and the efforts to combat climate change, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, approved an in-depth study conducted by the Dubai Future Council on Energy on how the Emirate of Dubai can achieve carbon neutrality (Net Zero Emissions) by 2050.
This will be achieved through a strategy and a clear roadmap that depend on using renewable and clean energy solutions and technologies, creating investment opportunities in the field of green economy, and achieving a balance between
28 economic growth and environmental sustainability. He has directed all concerned authorities in Dubai to proceed with its implementation.
This significant move supports the pioneering projects in Dubai to diversify clean energy sources. These include different available clean and renewable energy sources and technologies such as solar photovoltaic systems, Concentrated Solar Power (CSP), green hydrogen production using solar power, pumped-storage water technology, and studying electricity generation technology from wind power.
DEWA’s total clean energy generation capacity has increased to around 10% of Dubai’s energy mix, and from the end of 2021 this will increase to 13.3% in phases by Q1 of 2022. One of our key projects is the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, the largest single-site solar park in the world based on the Independent Power Producer (IPP) model, with a planned capacity of 5,000 megawatts (MW) by 2030 and investments of up to Dh50 billion.
These efforts have helped Dubai reduce its carbon emissions by 22% in 2019, two years ahead of the 2021 target set in the Dubai Carbon Abatement Strategy to reduce carbon emissions by 16%.
In addition to renewable and clean energy projects, the UAE is promoting the global transformation into a green economy. DEWA and the World Green Economy Organization (WGEO) organised the 7th World Green Economy Summit (WGES) under the theme ‘Galvanising Action for a Sustainable Recovery.’
It focused on four main themes: Youth; Innovation and Smart Technologies; Green Economy and Policies; and Green Finance. With the participation of international figures and environment and green economy experts, the summit produced key recommendations to contribute to combating climate change. This enhances the UAE’s leading position as a strategic platform to support international cooperation in addressing global challenges and promote investments in the green economy, with expectations for the green economy to contribute about $12 trillion by 2030.
The next WGES will take place on 2-3 March 2022 in conjunction with the Regional Climate Week, the first of its kind in the MENA region during Expo 2020 Dubai. Convening the 7th and 8th editions of the WGES in conjunction with Expo 2020 Dubai, which is held under the theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, consolidates the position of Dubai and the UAE as a global hub for accelerating the pace of sustainable development and stimulating quality investments in green economy, as well as a driving force for strengthening international cooperation in combating global challenges.
In line with the vision of our wise leadership to turn challenges into opportunities, we take the climate challenge as an opportunity to diversify the economy and invest in new growth drivers to continue the path of development and prosperity, achieve the directives of our wise leadership and reach climate neutrality by 2050.
As the electric utility sector witnesses sophisticated technologies integration while transitioning to intelligent digital networks, a troublesome issue is obscuring the route to new opportunities.
With highly interconnected digital infrastructure enabling real-time power outages visibility, energy management tools deployment, and smartphone-based end-user electricity consumption control, this level of empowerment has left the industry considerably more vulnerable to cyber infringements.
However inadvertently, electric utilities have thus become increasingly exposed due to evolving internet connectivity requirements, presenting industry incumbents with the imminent task of overcoming related challenges to minimize risks, something by no means an easy feat.
At present, the electrical utility sector faces several obstacles entailing sizeable challenges such as a lack of highly qualified talent in the field, extra discrepancies stemming from third-party associations, changing business and technology demands, a lack of contributions from workforces.
Moreover, this conundrum is further expounded for smaller players, those without the scalability and resources of larger, more established utilities.
Although action to address this reality has already been pursued by electric utility sectors and governments worldwide, such efforts must now be multiplied.
This means better utilizing government resources, fostering more cybersecurity experts, sharing lessons learned, and developing a culture that upholds world-class preventive measures and eliminates cyber vulnerabilities.
While the necessity for plugging exposure gaps and building newfound resiliency has never been more critical, this scenario stems from a culmination of instances where operational technology has become more susceptible to damage and disruption across the oil and gas (O&G) and energy sectors over the last decade.
For instance, computer systems at a Qatari gas company were taken offline by a malicious virus in 2012, before a Saudi Arabia-based petrochemicals company was infiltrated with Triton/ Trisis malware tools that targeted and disabled on-site ICS safety systems five years later.
And only recently in July 2021, Saudi Arabia’s oil producer, fell victim to the cyber-attack trend as files were leaked and hackers reportedly demanded a $50mn ransom.
These high-profile examples shed light on the barrage of cyber-attacks that the regional energy community has been experiencing, resulting in pressures from customers, investors, and regulators to establish new standards and safeguard operational security.
Yet energy companies, electric utilities included, still encompass lower cyber resilience levels than counterparts in other industries.
Leading telco providers and financial institutions are among those now boasting optimized cybersecurity processes, integrated with enterprise-wide risk frameworks that enable sustained improvements and proactive approaches to mitigating risks.
However, in the energy sector, organizations and the vertical as a whole remain behind the curve. The methodology does exist, but is either incomplete or does not fit individual company contexts. Processes are also reactive and developed in silos, with deliberate decisionmaking enforced only in times of crisis. Therefore, permanently addressing vulnerability is essential.
NEXT STEPS FOR ELECTRIC UTILITIES
To realize cybersecurity aspirations, organizations are first required to understand the negligence factors behind infringements. BCG research substantiates that 77% of breaches are attributed to organizational, process, and personnel failures, and 23% are caused by inadequate security technology.
Concerning the former, social engineering, IT configuration errors, malicious or negligent insiders, and security failures are among the most common occurrences behind such breaches, and building a world-class cyber function capable of eliminating risks hinges on the convergence of management and digital to meet eight key directives:
• Ingraining cybersecurity into organizational culture the same way as safety, quality, ethics, and compliance.
• Creating an understanding of which systems are most valuable and conducting breaching tests.
• Securing third parties, including suppliers, acquisitions, partners, and customers.
• Providing technology upskilling to ensure users are fully familiar with cybersecurity tools.
• Optimizing budgets between minimizing vulnerabilities and rebounding from breaches.
• Designing services, products, networks, and systems in line with cyber requirements.
• Comprehensively preparing for incident response, business continuity, and disaster recovery.
• Integrating cybersecurity with mission strategy for innovation and growth purposes.
Although each is imperative, the most pressing for electric utilities in the immediate future is creating an authentic cybersecurity culture.